How to Take Care of a German Shepherd

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30-08-2018, 20:00
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Expert Reviewed German shepherds are large and active dogs that are highly intelligent and loyal companions. They require thoughtful care and consistent training in order to live long and happy lives. German shepherds need to be fed and housed properly, in addition to requiring regular health care and exercise. With some effort and care, your German shepherd can live a long and happy life and will be a steady companion for you for years to come.

Feeding Your German Shepherd

  1. Make sure your German shepherd is getting proper nutrition. Since German shepherds large, active dogs and are known to have hips that give out, it's important to make sure they have good nutrition throughout their lives. Make sure to buy healthy food that is not full of filler ingredients. For example, make sure you are feeding a quality food that contains animal protein and doesn't use corn for protein.
    • You can feed your German shepherd dry or wet food, or a combination of both.
    • If you choose to feed your German shepherd homemade meals, it's important to talk to your veterinarian about what they need to include. This will help ensure that the dog will get a balanced diet.
    • Try to resist giving your dog table scraps, especially if it is begging for them. People food can be unhealthy for the dog and can impact its interest in its healthy food.
  2. Feed your German shepherd age-appropriate food. As your dog ages, it will have different nutritional needs. Feed your dog a food that is designed for its specific age, such as a puppy food when it very young, an adult food when it is in middle age, and senior food when it is in old age.
    • There are also specific formulas you may need to consider at some point, for example, special foods for large breeds or weight control food for overweight dogs.
    • Talk to your vet about what food will work best for your dog. Because your vet will understand your specific dog's health issues, they may want it to get specific nutritional needs met.
    • When switching between types of food, for instance when you take your dog off puppy food, do not suddenly change the food. Instead, mix the foods together, gradually increasing the new food and decreasing the old food over the course of several weeks.
  3. Feed your dog the correct amount of food for its size and age. Look at the packaging of the food to determine the suggested serving size. This should be based on the size and age of your dog. You can also talk to your veterinarian about how much they think your dog should be eating.
  4. Divide food into several smaller meals throughout the day. It is best to divide your German shepherd's daily food into 2 or more smaller meals. Giving smaller meals helps to minimize the risk of bloat, which is a life-threatening swelling of the abdomen.
    • When you feed your dog several times a day, your dog will need to relieve themselves shortly after each meal.
    • Never exercise a German shepherd right after they eat since this could increase the risk of bloating.
  5. Give your German shepherd healthy treats. In addition to feeding it healthy food, the snacks you feed your German shepherd can have an impact on its health. Pick low calorie treats that are satisfying for dogs, including crunchy vegetables and kibble in a feeding toy that slows the dog's consumption down.
    • Treats should only make up 5 to 10% of your dog's calorie intact, so control how many treats you give your dog.
  6. Provide access to water at all times. Dogs can drink a lot of water every day and it's important that they do to prevent dehydration. Fill up its bowl with clean water every day and leave it where your dog has access to it. Also, check up on the bowl throughout the day, if possible, to make sure there is plenty of water available.
    • However, German shepherds should drink small amounts of water throughout the day, instead of drinking a large amount at one time. Gradually hydrating throughout the day will ensure that the dog doesn't get bloat.
    • Dehydration can be a threat to your dog's health. Signs that it might be dehydrated and needs more water include excessive panting, loss of appetite, and dry nose or gums. If you see these symptoms, give your dog water immediately.

Taking Care of Your German Shepherd's Health

  1. Take your shepherd in for a checkup every year. When caring for a German shepherd, you need to make sure you are giving it preventative health care. If you have it looked at by a veterinarian every year, many health problems can be avoided and emerging problems can be treated quickly. Things your veterinarian will do during an annual exam may include:
    • A general health assessment—The vet will check the general condition of your dog, including looking for common ailments, such as ear infections.
    • Nail trimming—When your dog's nails get long, it is very painful for them to move about. The vet will clip them if they are too long.
    • De-worming and heartworm test—All dogs must be wormed every month or so to prevent them from getting worms. First, your dog will need to be tested for worms, and then your vet can prescribe a medication to be taken monthly. If your dog already has worms, your vet can provide a medication for treatment.
    • Vaccinations—Talk to your vet to determine which vaccines are necessary and what diseases they’ll protect against.
  2. Get your dog spayed or neutered. Getting your German shepherd fixed is important for keeping pet populations under control. Unless you are planning on breeding your dog, talk to your veterinarian about when the best time to spay or neuter your German shepherd is. This surgery usually occurs between the ages of 6 months and 1 1/2 years old, although waiting until the dog is 1 year old may increase the health of its joints.
    • Neutering or spaying your dog can also help eliminate aggressive behavior in the future.
  3. Get possible medical problems treated as soon as possible. For example, as soon as you see that your dog has a walking problem or is not eating as usual, take it to the vet. This specific breed of dog can get joint problems when they get old, so it's important to keep an eye out for physical and behavioral changes and start caring for them right away.
    • In particular, watch for changes in how your dog walks and moves its legs. These changes could signal that your dog has joint problems, such as hip dysplasia, and that condition may require immediate medical treatment.
  4. Bathe and brush your German shepherd. Caring for a German shepherd's coat is relatively easy. They should be brushed once or twice a week. You only need to bathe them if you feel they need it. However, do not bathe it more than a couple times a month, as soap can disrupt their natural skin and fur oils.
    • You can bathe your dog at home or take it to a groomer.
    • Bathe your dog more frequently when it is very active. This will protect it from skin problems and rashes, especially in the summer.

Keeping Your German Shepherd Physically Active

  1. Make sure your German shepherd has enough space. Remember that a German shepherd is a large dog. This breed needs space to be comfortable in their home and in their yard. They do better in a house that has room for them to move freely about, as opposed to a small apartment or cramped space.
    • German shepherds can benefit from having access to a lot of space to run around. Make sure that your yard is clear, uncluttered, and hazard-free.
  2. Exercise your dog. Without exercise, the German shepherd's amazing muscles and energy will be locked up inside with no outlet. Ideally, you would spend 1 hour or 2 every day playing fetch, taking it for a long walk or run, or even chasing it around the yard. German shepherds who don't get enough exercise are more likely to get joint diseases, like hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as becoming destructive or depressed.
    • However, beware of giving them too much exercise at a young age. Do not take your German shepherd jogging or running with you before they are 1 and a half years old, because its joints and bones are still developing.
    • To keep a German shepherd outside in a yard, you need to make sure the yard is completely fenced off.
    • If you don't have a big yard, then take your dog daily to the local park. You can also make use of any other appropriate open spaces accessible from your home.
  3. Avoid strenuous activity right after eating. Since German shepherds are prone to bloat, it's important to keep them calm before and after they digest their food. Do not engage them in strenuous activity, such as running, before or for several hours after eating.
    • While you shouldn't run them after meal time, it is perfectly fine to take them on a leisurely walk after eating.
  4. Keep your German shepherd cool. German shepherds, especially long-haired shepherds, are susceptible to hot weather. If you have a shepherd and you live in a hot or tropical area, provide your dog with plenty of water and shade while outside. Also be sure that you don't demand too much physical activity on extremely hot days.
    • Signs that your German shepherd is overheated include panting, extreme thirst, lack of coordination, and extremely red gums.
    • German shepherds do better in cool or cold climates, as their coats insulate them well in lower temperatures.

Training and Socializing Your German Shepherd

  1. Socialize your puppy. German shepherds should be exposed to a wide variety of people, places, and other dogs when they are young. This will get them used to interacting peacefully with anyone they come into contact with. If not socialized properly in puppyhood, German shepherds can have aggression issues later in life.
    • If you plan on training your dog to be a guard dog, you still need to socialize your puppy properly. This lays the foundation for a pleasant personality in addition to being a competent guard dog.
    • Part of proper socialization is giving your dog lots of physical contact from the time it's a puppy. Regular touching and handling of the face and feet means that, when the puppy grows up, it won't mind having its nails clipped or mouth checked.
  2. Train your German shepherd. German shepherds are extremely smart and loyal dogs, which means that they are especially adept at learning commands and responding to obedience training. However, it's important to train them in a positive manner, using lots of praise, petting, and love to reinforce your commands. This will help you to build a relationship of trust and loyalty with your dog.
    • When your dog is young, train for short amounts of time, just as you would your child. As your dog gets older and becomes better at responding to commands, your training sessions can get longer.
  3. Continue to teach your German shepherd new tricks and commands. Not only will a well-behaved German shepherd be more impressive and easier to care for with continued training, but you and your dog will develop a bond if you take the time to train it. As the bond gets stronger, your German shepherd will be more likely to listen to your commands and will be happier to have you as a master.
    • German shepherds are great guide dogs, guard dogs, rescue dogs, and police dogs. If your German shepherd is very smart and needs lots of mental and physical exercise, consider training it for a specialized job.
  4. Give your dog love and attention. In order to build a lasting bond with your dog, it's important to give them physical affection and love, such as petting and cuddling them daily. Be friendly to your dog, love them, and they will love you back!
    • You can't fake affection, even with a dog, you have to have expressions and gestures to prove how much you adore it, to make it feel lovable and loved. There has to be sincere and genuine love shared between the two of you.
    • Never beat or yell at your dog. Never scold your dog unless you catch it in the act of doing something wrong. Otherwise, the dog will associate you with scolding and punishment and may lose trust in you.
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